Photo (cc) by MyFWCmedia
Are you looking for some fun and inexpensive things to do with your children this weekend? Having fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
I have a few favorites, and I polled my friends for their favorites. Here are the top 10 tried and true ideas that I came up with:
1. Hide and seek in the dark with Glow Sticks
I love this idea because it’s simple and can be done for the price of a few Glow Sticks. Kids love games in the pitch-dark of night, so this is a sure winner.
2. Go to the river or creek and play
I had so many of my friends mention this one that I had to include it. It’s probably so popular because little children love throwing rocks into the water. This can entertain them for a long time.
When children get older, they can look for fish or insects. One friend would make simple boats with her kids and let them float them in the creek. If you have a nearby pond with ducks on it, bring some bread along for the kids to feed them.
Add in a little hike to get to the river or creek, and you have built-in exercise. This activity requires extra care, because of the danger of drowning. Be especially alert if you are playing near a river because the current can be treacherous.
3. Pizza party
Let them make their own pizzas and you have simple and fun dinner. My vote is to keep it easy for Mom or Dad by purchasing pre-made crusts or pizza kits. You can use a healthy, whole-grain crust recipe and nutritious ingredients if you have the time and ambition, though.
Children love having ownership of their own pizzas and selecting their ingredients of choice.
4. Rock art
Painting on rocks with acrylic paints, coloring with markers or colored pencils, or melting old crayons on them is fun and costs next to nothing.
To melt crayons, place the rocks in the oven and turn on the oven to preheat to about 250 degrees. When your oven has reached that temperature, you can check your rocks. They are probably hot enough. Hold your crayons on them and let them melt and make patterns.
Of course, use caution with little children when they are working with hot rocks. Younger ones might do better with the paints, markers, or colored pencils.
5. Treasure hunt
Hide something and draw a map that the children have to follow to find the treasure. They can even take turns creating their own treasure map and hidden treasure for everyone else to find.
6. Nature walk
Take a walk and look for special birds, animals, insects or plants. You can make it even more special by creating a nature journal for them to draw in and label their finds. The Handbook of Nature Study website has some great ideas to get you started.
To add some depth to the experience, I adore “The Nature Connection.” If you really want to go crazy with the educational value, check out these YouTube videos of Peterson Field Guides, or get the books.
If the kids seem to be getting bored, make it a challenge to see who can find the first ladybug, robin or whatever.
7. Public library reading programs
My local library has a summer library reading program complete with challenges and prizes. The whole thing is based on donations and is free, and at the end of the program kids usually have some pretty fun prizes like simple toys or T-shirts.
The added bonus is the incentive to read more, which all kids can use. Check your local public library to see what they offer.
My kindergarten-aged friend, Jocelyn, recommends fishing as the most fun thing to do. This could go along with the river or creek idea, but it takes extra preparation. You will need a few fishing supplies, but they don’t have to be fancy or expensive.
Make sure to check the regulations for the area where you want to fish to see if you need licenses. Many places allow free fishing for children.
9. Basketball or four square
Check out your local parks or public school playgrounds for basketball hoops or four square courts. For the price of a basketball you can have fun by just showing up and playing.
This is good preparation for kids who may want to play a sport in school. Even if they have no plans to do anything like that, it’s good to get out and get moving.
10. Camp out/movie night
I have to confess that this is my all-time favorite. It requires almost no energy or expense from parents and is a great memory builder. Let them bring their favorite blankets or sleeping bags into the television room. They can make a tent or fort and watch movies until they fall asleep. Let them bring their favorite stuffed animals or dolls to make it more fun.
There is something that seems very “big” and grown-up about staying up late and watching movies. The good news is that they will probably fall asleep pretty early after a long week.
During the week things can get so busy that it can be hard to squeeze in fun activities. It’s not necessary to invest a lot of time or money to make some great memories this weekend. Try some of these and have a great weekend.